How many times do you smile throughout the day?
It’s a unconscious act, sure – nobody keeps track of that kind of thing, and having to manually control your facial expressions might just stress you out even more in the first place. Why is it, then, that wearing a happy smile can be so hard sometimes? Why does a natural response become such a chore?
The obvious response: life gets in the way. Twenty-four hours can build you up or tear you down, take you high or send you crashing face-first into despair, but here’s something worth remembering either way: no matter what happens, you always have reason to bring out the pearly whites.
Wanna know why?
1. You’re alive!
And isn’t that wonderful? You’re a living, breathing being, a big beautiful box full of the kind of power that makes inanimate objects jealous. You’re alive during the Internet age, when information and opportunity flows like water, and you’re an intelligent creature capable of taking advantage of both. You’re alive during the period where airplanes are surprisingly safe ways to cross the globe, giving you open access to exotic places far and wide.
Point is, though, that you’re alive. You get to breathe, to taste wonderful food, to swim in the ocean and play with your pets. Regardless of your goals, and regardless of whether you’re pursuing them, life awaits you at every corner, and who can honestly ask for more than that? Life is good. Living is awesome.
2. You can change!
What makes you frown? A part of your personality, maybe, that weighs on you with each sidewards glance in the mirror. Perk up! The beauty of being human is that we can change – we can take a deep breath, step back and study ourselves, examining each and every part working in unison. You have the ability to work out the kinks and bring yourself back to harmony with little more than determination and patience. You can change. You can always change, and you will, so don’t let any niggling voice in the back of your skull start to bring you down.
You have the unique opportunity to change your life for the better. You, right here and now, can make a vow to improve, or just promise the person in the mirror that it’s never too late to get off your butt and start working for a better you. So long as that gray stuff between your ears still functions, you have everything you need to turn a new leaf, so don’t let any self-doubt or concerns stop you. Just think hard about who you want to be and know that it’s always possible.
If that isn’t worth smiling about, then who knows what is?
3. The sun will still rise in the morning.
Once, long ago, someone asked me what my idea of perfection was. I thought about it long and hard, but a single image came to mind: standing with my eyes closed, arms out, feeling the sun on my skin and the wind breezing past me. That’s pretty poetic, I know, but the image never left me. Beyond its mood-elevating effect, a healthy dose of sunlight always manages to make me smile, and I imagine it might do the same for you too. You can imagine it now, can’t you? Close your eyes and imagine the sun’s warmth wrapped around you – it might not be your idea of perfection, but it’s an opportunity to smile that’s available just about everywhere you might go. That’s a pretty nice perk, if you ask me.
Next time you’re feeling down, excuse yourself for a brief break outside. You don’t need to do anything special. Just stand and let the sunlight come over you, building a gentle warmth in your body that can last long after you head back inside.
4. You always have time.
Have you thought “life sucks” sometime in the last twenty-four hours? I can’t blame you. In the thick of it, all of life’s little problems seems like massive catastrophes, sucking you further down each time you try and pull yourself out of the pit. But even a few hours can soften the blow, and half a day can make a world of difference – not to mention a full twenty-four hours!
Time always passes. That’s often a source of stress, but I like to think it’s pretty comforting, too. No matter what nonsense you’re dealing with right now, the sun will still peek up above the clouds tomorrow. No matter what scars you’re carrying, the tick-tock of the clock will give you time to heal – and lots of it, a near-infinite supply of minutes to realize that the biggest problem today is little more than a minor nuisance tomorrow.
And what about your goals? I’ll be talking about those a lot more in the near future, but take comfort right this instant that your goals will always be waiting. It’s never too late to pursue them. It’s never too late to realize they’re still in your future, and it’s never too early to start grinning when you think about the happiness that chasing those dreams can bring.
5. You always have your memories.
The mind, if you think about it, is a pretty remarkable thing. But just as incredible, in my opinion, are memories – those little stories in the back of your mind about adventures from way back when or just a memorable encounter a few hours back. Your current situation might not make you smile, but looking back on the ‘golden days’ just might. Why not give it a try? Take some time to fish out your best, most favorite memory, the one that makes you grin even now. Once you’ve got it, don’t let go. Explore it in detail, reliving every exciting part.
When you come back to the world, don’t do so with disappointment. Realize this: the best memories represent high points in our life, those moments when we took chances and had them pay off hugely. Who says we can’t do the same thing again? We’re human, as you might recall, and that’s really all you need to get back out there and start making new memories. There’s no reason to think your younger years were your absolute best – so long as you’re living and breathing on this planet, you have an opportunity to do something remarkable, and you owe it to yourself to ease out of your routine and seek even greater memories.
What makes you smile? Let me know!